Witness: I never told Bailey there was a cell for him

An important witness in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation was never assured by gardai she would not have to go to court: that would be “ridiculous”, a retired garda detective superintendent told the High Court.

Witness: I never told Bailey there was a cell for him

Ted Murphy was attached to the special investigations unit at Garda HQ in Dublin when seconded to the murder investigation in December 1996. He said he decided in May 1997 it was time for Marie Farrell to “put up or shut up”.

Ms Farrell had said she was with a male companion when she allegedly saw a man at Kealfada Bridge near Schull on the night of December 22/23, 1996, hours before Ms du Plantier’s body was found, and it was important to get corroboration of this from her companion, he said.

Having spoken to the man Ms Farrell named as her companion and his wife, gardai were satisfied “beyond any reasonable doubt” the named man was not her companion, he said.

When gardai confronted Ms Farrell about this, she indicated she was compromised in saying who she was with, had a violent husband, and was concerned she might lose custody of her children, he said.

No assurances were given she would not have to go to court and while gardai told her they appreciated the position she was in, she was told she must tell the truth, he said.

He and Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald met Ms Farrell on three occasions over 12 days from May 9, 1997, and she twice asked for time. After the third meeting, he said he decided, due to absence of corroboration, it was no longer fruitful to pursue her alleged sighting of a man at Kealfada Bridge. There was still no corroboration of her evidence, he added.

He denied he had said to Ian Bailey there was a “nice little cell waiting for you in Mountjoy”. That never happened, he said.

He was giving evidence on the 41st day of the action by Mr Bailey against the Garda Commissioner and State over the conduct of the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier whose body was found at Toormore, Schull, on December 23, 1996.

The defendants deny all claims, including wrongful arrest and conspiracy.

Due to difficulties experienced by a juror, the case was adjourned early yesterday afternoon to resume on Tuesday.

Earlier, the jury was told by Tom Creed SC, for Mr Bailey, the Criminal Justice Act 1984 did not require authorisation for the taking of clothes from detained persons once an alternative set of clothing was provided.

Counsel’s clarification arose from questions put by him on Thursday to Sgt Des Prendergast, member in charge of Bandon Garda Station during Mr Bailey’s detention on February 10, 1997, about whether there was authorisation for taking clothing from Mr Bailey during his detention. Sgt Prendergast had said he could not recall the precise provisions of the law in that regard.

Yesterday, former detective garda Gerard Dillon denied claims gardai told Mr Bailey, after his release from detention on February 10, 1997, he could not go home, his partner did not want to see him, and there was a “lynch mob” waiting. None of that happened, Mr Dillon said.

He and Det Garda Bernie Hanley were told to bring Mr Bailey home and his recollection was that Mr Bailey told them, when in the car, that he was staying in Skibbereen that night. The conversation in the car was “general” and Mr Bailey had thanked the gardai for driving him to Skibbereen, he said.

Before he left the car, Mr Bailey signed notes of an interview after agreeing they were correct having had them read over to him by Det Garda Hanley, Mr Dillon said.

Earlier, Mr Dillon said he was stationed in Galway in 1997 but was available to Garda national investigations units if required and travelled to Bandon on February 9, 1997, to interview Mr Bailey the next day because he was directed to do so. He interviewed Mr Bailey with Det Garda Hanley and took a note of that interview.

He was aware of the grounds of Mr Bailey’s arrest, including alleged admissions by him and scratches on his hands and arms.

When counsel suggested that nobody asked Mr Bailey about the scratches and that indicated the ground of arrest concerning scratches was “nonsense”, Mr Dillon said he had not asked Mr Bailey about scratches and was not aware if other gardai had.

He agreed Mr Bailey was asked about his conversation with a journalist on December 23, 1996, the day the body of Ms du Plantier was found. He could not recall details concerning the time the journalist learned the victim was a French national.

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